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Thomas v. Penn United Technology

April 3, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose Chief U.S. District Judge

AMBROSE, Chief District Judge


The individual Defendants, Bill Jones, David Jones, and James Ferguson, filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Docket No. 9). Pro se Plaintiff filed a Response thereto. (Docket No. 13). After careful consideration of the submissions by the parties and as more fully set forth below, the individual Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 9) is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

Pro se Plaintiff filed a Complaint against his former employer, Penn United Technology ("Penn United") and individuals also employed by Penn United. It appears as though the Complaint alleges, inter alia, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation presumably in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §12101, et seq. and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA") 43 P.S. § 951, et seq. Defendants also assert that it the Complaint can be read to attempt to assert a cause of action against the Defendants for a violation of the workers' compensation law. The individual Defendants move to dismiss these claims against them individually. (Docket No. 9).

II. Analysis

A. Motion to Strike (Docket No. 14)

As an initial matter, I must determine the extent of my consideration of the material submitted by pro se Plaintiff. In opposition to the Motion to Dismiss, pro se Plaintiff attaches exhibits AA-GG and requests that this Court consider them in rendering its decision. (Docket Nos. 13-2 through 13-8). Generally, in considering a motion to dismiss based on Rule 12(b)(6), a district court may not consider matters "outside the pleading." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Pleadings are defined by the Federal Rules to include a complaint, an answer, a reply to a counterclaim, an answer to a cross-claim, a third-party complaint, and a third-party answer. Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(a). Thus, when ruling upon a 12(b)(6) motion, a district court is limited to considering the facts as they are alleged in the complaint, anything properly attached thereto and matters of public record.*fn1 Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), 10(c).

Nonetheless, "when [a] plaintiff fails to introduce a pertinent document as part of his pleading, [a] defendant may introduce the exhibit as part of his motion attacking the pleading." 5A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1327, at 762-63 (2d ed. 1990).

A court may consider an undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the document. Otherwise a plaintiff with a legally deficient claim could survive a motion to dismiss simply by failing to attach a dispositive document on which it relied.

Pension Benefit Guar. Corp., v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The rationale behind this rule is that the document is not "outside" the complaint because the complaint specifically refers to the document. Presumably, therefore, the plaintiff is on notice of the contents of the document. Id. at 1196-97. I find that same rationale applies to a pro se Plaintiff responding to a motion to dismiss, that is, that the defendant is presumably on notice of the contents of the documents upon which the complaint is based and a complaint should not be dismissed if it is legally sufficient.

Despite Defendants' argument to the contrary, the Complaint refers to the charge filed with the EEOC charges. (Docket No. 1, ¶7). Pro Se Plaintiff, however, failed to attach the investigatory documents related thereto. Instead, pro se Plaintiff attached them to his Response to the Motion to Dismiss. Defendants do not question the authenticity of the documents. Thus, to the extent that said documents relate to the EEOC charges and the investigation related thereto, I will take them into account when ruling upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

B. Standard of Review

In ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim, I must accept all factual allegations, and all reasonable inferences therefrom, as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 525 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). Although a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007); Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231. "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a ...

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